BitTorrent, Inc. Officially Opens TV, Movie Download Store

BitTorrent, Inc. is most commonly known as a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, but in 2007, it decided to dip its toes into the music and movie download store business. This marked a significant shift for the company, which had been plagued by accusations of piracy and copyright infringement. The BitTorrent Entertainment Network, launched on Monday, was a legitimate platform that aimed to offer a legal alternative to the free-for-all BitTorrent network.

The store included content from major studios such as Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Viacom’s MTV Networks, Paramount, and MGM. Overall, the store offered a collection of 5,000 movies, TV shows, PC games, and music videos, all wrapped within Windows Media DRM protections. Some content was DRM-free, with movies available for download at $2.99 or $3.99, expiring after 30 days or 24 hours after the first viewing. TV shows could be downloaded for $1.99 and played back an unlimited number of times.

The move towards above-board sales was led by protocol creator Bram Cohen and current president Ashwin Navin. Comparisons were quickly being made to the iTunes Store, though BitTorrent had a larger number of movie studios on board. That licensing disparity was created by a number of negotiating differences between the studios and Apple, and part of a relatively slow licensing process involving Hollywood.

BitTorrent’s entry into the legitimate digital storefront space was a significant move, given the company’s previous reputation for facilitating piracy. The new store was an attempt at legitimizing the company’s operations, and it was hoped that it would help bring the peer-to-peer file sharing protocol into the mainstream. However, the move was not without its challenges.

One of the biggest challenges that BitTorrent faced was the easy availability of free full-length movies online. Despite the availability of legitimate options, many consumers were still using the BitTorrent network to access movies and TV shows for free. It remained unclear just how many moviegoers would grab the downloads, especially given the availability of free content.

Another challenge was the lack of compatibility with Apple’s iPod. At the time, the iPod was the most popular portable media player on the market, and the inability to play the downloaded content on the device could have limited BitTorrent’s adoption. However, the company did offer content that was playable on the Windows Media Player 11, which was the default media player on most PCs at the time.

Despite these challenges, BitTorrent’s move into the legitimate digital storefront space was seen as a significant step forward for the company. The move helped to legitimize the company’s operations and paved the way for other peer-to-peer file sharing protocols to follow suit. Today, BitTorrent is still one of the most popular file sharing protocols on the internet, and it continues to play an important role in the sharing of files and content online.

In conclusion, the launch of the BitTorrent Entertainment Network in 2007 marked a significant shift for the company. The move towards above-board sales was a significant step forward for the company, which had long been associated with piracy and copyright infringement. While the move was not without its challenges, it helped to legitimize the company’s operations and paved the way for other peer-to-peer file sharing protocols to follow suit. Today, BitTorrent continues to play an important role in the sharing of files and content online.